Friday, May 25, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 5/25/12

WWE Friday Night SmackDown
May 25th, 2012
Mohegan Sun Arena, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411mania's Friday Night Smackdown coverage. I'll be your guide to the world of the blue brand as usual as we're less than a week removed from the Over the Limit PPV which saw Sheamus retain his World Heavyweight title in a four-way match among others. The build to the next PPV, No Way Out, should begin for the brand tonight so let's see what's in store for us.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show tonight with the assistant GM Eve coming out to gloat a bit about John Laurinaitis' victory over John Cena at Over the Limit, despite the fact that Johnny isn't here tonight (again), so Eve is in charge. She promises that tonight Sheamus will apologize for tackling Ace on RAW this week, and that we'll also decide who the new number one contender is. Alberto Del Rio promptly comes out as soon as she says this to suck up and try to get the title shot. Since this is the opening segment of Smackdown and that means we need atleast 3-4 interruptions, out comes Randy Orton to try and lay claim to the shot. And now here comes Kane, who---yep, you guessed it, wants the title shot for himself, but atleast he's got a clever reason---tonight is the 666th episode of Smackdown. Eve decides to just book them all into a triple threat match for our main event tonight, with the winner becoming number one contender.

Christian (17-13-1) vs. Hunico (7-5)
This is apparently Christian's first Smackdown match in 8 months, though that seems a bit long. Non-title too. Christian quickly sends Hunico to the floor with a back body drop but misses the baseball slide dropkick to follow up. He takes his eye off Hunico for a second to keep his eye on Camacho when Hunico sends him into the steel post, returns to the ring, and then wipes him out with a nice tope. Hunico misses a springboard senton but manages to catch Christian off the second rope into a jackknife cover. Flying elbow from the second rope by Christian and he sets up for the Killswitch, but Camacho distracts him briefly. Christian shrugs it off and gives Hunico the Killswitch anyways though and then finishes him with the frog splash at 3:04. Just a quick TV return match for Christian here, but both guys looked good in the short time they got. Still not sure how I feel about Christian being knocked back to the midcard, but he could bring some respect back to the IC title I suppose. **

After the match Cody Rhodes comes out with a mic to brag about how epic his IC title run was, comparing himself to Razor Ramon, Randy Savage, and Shawn Michaels. Cody claims no one cares about Christian and that when he gets his contractual rematch, it's only going to take him 3 seconds to win the title back. Give those two atleast ten minutes and I'm confident they could have a darn good match.

Titus O'Neill/Darren Young vs. The Uso's (Jimmy Uso/Jey Uso)
We see a backstage confrontation between the two teams from before the show went on the air tonight as Titus and Jimmy start us off while Michael Cole refers to O'Neill and Young as the future of the WWE tag team division. Shudder. The Uso's trade quick tags and try isolating Titus in their corner but he breaks free and tags Young in, suplexing his own partner onto Jey. The heels trade quick tags in their corner now until Jey fires off an elbow and tags Jimmy back in. Jimmy hits the running ass slam on Young in the corner but Titus breaks it up. Huge superkick on Young from Jimmy, but Titus distracts him when he goes for the Superfly splash and the heels finish Jimmy off with the double team elbow drop at 3:12. Nice to see them give O'Neill and Young another win after they got squashed by the champs last week, but frankly I don't think I'm alone in thinking I'd rather see the Uso's getting the push. *1/2

Advertisement for Sin Cara to return on next week's show. Finally.

Ryback (6-0) vs. Brian Edwards/Kevin Bendl
Back to squashing no-name jobbers for Ryback. Bendl looks alot like former ROH tag champ Ricky Reyes. Ryback seems to have a black eye and a busted eye vessel for some reason. Typical Ryback squash, a few power moves and then he finishes both guys off by giving them both the marching Samoan drop SIMULTANEOUSLY for the win at 1:29. Starting to tire of these Ryback squashes, but man that finish was awesome. 3/4*

Santino Marella (7-5) vs. Ricardo Rodriguez (0-0)
I can't help but notice how much more over Ricardo is then Del Rio. This match came out of an announcing dispute on RAW, if you missed it. Nice leap-frog from Ricardo in the tux to start and they go into a rope-running sequence, but Santino just stops and let Ricardo tire himself out. Airplane spin from Santino but he trips and falls out of the ring himself. He tries hiding under the ring apron and then pops back into the ring behind Ricardo to nail him with The Cobra for the win at 1:52. A comedy match that was actually funny, that's a rarity these days. I really have no idea why they put the US title on Santino though if they're just going to continue to use him as a comedy act. *

Sheamus comes out next for his apology to John Laurinaitis. Sheamus claims it was an accident though and can't quite get the apology out. Finally he apologizes...for John Laurinaitis being a massive arse. He apologizes for Eve, Otunga, and Big Show all being his personal ass kissers as well. Sheamus moves onto No Way Out, saying if it were up to him he'd be facing Randy Orton. Vickie Guerrero comes out to interrupt though and informs Sheamus that Eve just booked him into a match right now, against Jack Swagger.

Sheamus (33-16-1) vs. Jack Swagger (9-12)
Intense lock-up to start before Swagger takes the champ down with a waistlock takedown. Sheamus elbows out of it and hits a flying shoulder-block off the top. The action spills to the floor briefly and Vickie distracts Sheamus long enough on his way back into the ring for Swagger to tackle his knee, sending him flying to the floor as we take a commercial break. When we return Swagger has begun working over the same knee, wrapping it around the steel post and working an old school stepover toe hold. Sheamus manages to break up the limb work with a neckbreaker out of the corner. Sheamus gives him the hammer-fists on the apron and suplexes him back in for a two count. Sheamus blocks the ankle lock and then goes for the Brogue Kick, but misses and Swagger takes his knee out again with a chop block. He follows with a Swagger bomb in the corner but Sheamus kicks out. Sheamus flips out of the Gut Wrench powerbomb attempt and hits the Brogue Kick out of nowhere for the win at 7:04 (shown). Pretty solid little match here, but man that finish makes no sense. Swagger spends the entire match working over the knee only for Sheamus to totally no sell it in the finish with the Brogue Kick. Would have been better had Sheamus remembered to sell in the last two minutes. **1/4

Damien Sandow (0-0) vs. Yoshi Tatsu (0-4)
Sandow cuts his usual pre-match promo about how we're all not worthy, especially Yoshi. He freaks out at the bell when Yoshi tries to attack him while he's in the ropes, demanding the ref do his job. Sandow delivers a series of knees and a Russian legsweep before quickly putting Yoshi away with his neckbreaker at 0:45 seconds. Just to add to his whole throwback heel shtick, Sandow does a celebratory cartwheel after the match. I love this freaking guy, his promo work is great, he's solid in the ring, and how can you not love the Rick Martel-esque tights? Squash city for Yoshi though. 1/2*

Big Show, in work clothes with a tie, comes out next. Show sits down in the middle of the ring for a lengthy promo to explain again why he did what he did. Long story short, Big Show lives for wrestling and is apparently incapable of doing anything else, and when no one came to his defense, he had no choice but to help Johnny. This promo just drags on and on and on until finally Show takes off as Kane makes his way out to the ring for our main event.

Before the main event can actually start though, Daniel Bryan jumps Kane from behind in the dark with a steel chair and waffles the everloving hell out of him while the crowd chants "YES! YES! YES!" in appreciation. Well that was...random.

World Heavyweight Title Number One Contender's Match
Alberto Del Rio (11-10) vs. Kane (18-13) vs. Randy Orton (31-11-1)

Orton sends Del Rio out of the ring quickly but turns around into a big boot and dropkick from Kane. Del Rio returns to the ring only to be clotheslined out by Orton, who is then clotheslined out by Kane. Orton drags Kane back to the apron and tries for the second rope DDT, but Del Rio hits a spin kick to Orton to break it up as we take our last commercial break. When we return Kane is back in control. Orton dropkicks Del Rio out of the ring but walks right into a sideslam from the Big Red Machine. Kane heads to the top rope but Del Rio hits his step-up enziguri, sending him crashing out to the floor. Kane quickly returns to the ring and Orton hands out powerslams to both him and Alberto. Second-rope DDT on Del Rio from Orton out of the corner and he sets up for the RKO, but Del Rio blocks it and Kane sends Orton crashing into the steel steps outside the ring. Kane blocks the cross armbar attempt from Del Rio and hits him with the chokeslam, but Daniel Bryan runs back down to the apron to distract him and Kane takes off to chase him. He returns to the ring and walks right into the RKO from Orton, but before Orton can cover him Del Rio kicks Orton right in the head and steals the pin and the title shot at 7:20 (shown). Meh, this was decent enough but there was just zero flow whatsoever here, this just felt like a few spots strung together in the loosest of ways. Just chaos, and not the good kind. **

Del Rio celebrates on the ramp after the match when Sheamus comes out to jump him from behind as we go off the air.

Bottom Line: Okay show this week, Swagger/Sheamus was pretty solid apart from some shoddy selling but really there wasn't much else to see here. Big Show cuts basically the same promo from RAW, and Del Rio once again is the number one contender, even though people just flat out don't want to see him in that position right now, atleast not against Sheamus. Really just not much to say here tonight, run-of-the-mill show and for Smackdown that just isn't very exciting these days. Not a bad show by any means, just a boring one, so a very minor Thumbs Down tonight, though not by much.

Score: 5.0/10

Friday, May 18, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 5/18/12

WWE Friday Night SmackDown
May 18th, 2012
Giant Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to 411's SmackDown report as we're on the last stop tonight before the Over the Limit PPV and it's main event of doom, Johnny Ace vs. John Cena. I can't believe I'm typing that in the year 2012. A non-title match between Sheamus and Randy Orton is scheduled for tonight though so it doesn't look to be a total filler show, so let's kick it off.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open with Johnny Ace coming out. I liked Ace's heel shtick at first, but the more RAW and Smackdown become the Johnny Ace show, the less I care. He rants a bit about how he's still as tough in the ring as he ever was when he's promptly interrupted by the WWE champion CM Punk. Brand split? What brand split? Punk asks Ace how it feels to be on the other end of the stick for once, looking at his upcoming match with Cena and his potential impending dismissal. Ace still has some power though and books Punk into a match tonight with Kane. Punk doesn't mind though, because Ace will be in the unemployment line soon enough. Not sure why Punk's on the show tonight, but I'm not complaining, it certainly spices things up a bit. Ace lets the fans know they can all go to hell if this is his last night on the job. That's nice.

John Cena loves children! Just not in that way.

Kofi Kingston/R-Truth vs. Titus O'Neill/Darren Young
I've got to admit, as much as I've hated Titus and Darren's entire body of work thus far in the company, they're actually somewhat entertaining as a duo. Non-title match here, as if that matters. Truth starts off with Young, booting him in the face before tagging Kofi in for a cross-body. Young gives Kofi a nice back suplex onto the ring apron then gets a two count back inside. Titus tags in for a bit of work on Kofi but before long Truth and Young are tagged back in as Truth gets a near fall off the corkscrew elbow. Kofi takes out Titus outside with a pescado as Truth hits Young with the Little Jimmy for the win at 3:00. Well I'm not sure what the point of squashing what little heat Titus and Young had here was, but it makes the champs look competent going into their title match at the PPV. What's up though, were the Usos busy? *1/4

Backstage Zack Ryder appears to be taping himself with his own camera-phone for an episode of his web show when Damien Sandow walks by. He is not amused by Ryder's zany antics.

Damien Sandow vs. Yoshi Tatsu is scheduled as our next match, but as has been the trend these last few weeks, Sandow refuses to fight Tatsu because he isn't worthy. Tatsu calls Sandow a chicken and apparently Damien is Marty McFly because that's all it takes for him to hit the ring to attack Tatsu. No match, he just hammers Tatsu a bit and gives him a variation of a neckbreaker to beat him down and send a message.

Backstage Matt Striker is with Sheamus and Randy Orton for a few words before their main event match tonight. They share some calm but heated words and Orton says that Sheamus is a nice guy, and you know where nice guy's finish---last.

Daniel Bryan (16-21-2) vs. Zack Ryder (8-1)
I would love to see this get ten minutes but methinks this will just be a squash for Bryan, and considering their respective places on the card that's fine. Bryan takes it right to Zack with some forearms and then kicks his knee out from under him. Running dropkick in the corner gets Bryan two. Bryan works the arm and channels his inner Destroyer by twisting on Ryder's fingers while he's in the hold, but Zack breaks it up and fires off a missile dropkick. He tries for the Broski Boot but misses and Bryan nails him with a kick to the temple before putting him into the YES! Lock for the win at 2:28. Just a quick squash for Bryan and though I wish Ryder wasn't the one doing the job, it's not like the loss will actually hurt him more than he's already been hurt. Good, dominant showing for Bryan before his title match this Sunday, simple and effective booking. *

CM Punk (2-2-1) vs. Kane (17-13)
Bryan sticks around after his match to do color commentary for our next match-up. Punk starts off cautious with the big man, firing off half-hearted kicks early on. Punk clotheslines Kane out of the ring and we take a break. When we return Punk gets a one count off a DDT. Punk applies the figure four on Kane just as Josh Matthews is putting over his submission skills on commentary in a nice moment, but Kane quickly breaks it up and sends him outside. Punk tries springboarding back in but gets met with a big right hand and boots in the corner. Backbreaker from Kane and the big man wraps his legs around Punk in a body scissors of all things. Kane tries for a chokeslam but Punk counters into a swinging neckbreaker. Muay Thai knee from Kane followed by a leaping bulldog from the second rope nets Punk another near fall. He hits a springboard clothesline but again Kane kicks out. Punk tries to get Kane up for the GTS but his ribs are too weak and Kane counters with a big boot. Punk knocks Kane off the top and then hits the Macho Man elbow, but again Kane gets the shoulder up. Punk tries transitioning into the Anaconda Vice but Kane counters with a sidewalk slam. Top rope clothesline from Kane and Bryan is loving it at ringside. Punk sends Kane out of the ring and then wipes him out with a big tope, but before he can capitalize on it Bryan gets up from the commentary table, grabs a chair, and teases hitting Punk with it. Instead he waffles Kane with the chair, giving Kane the win by DQ at 8:35 (shown). After the match Kane beats down Punk, giving him two chokeslams. Are they actually making the title challenger look like a threat for once going into a PPV? I thought they gave up on that crazy notion years ago. The match itself was damn good for a modern Kane match, it seems if you put him in there with a solid smaller guy like Punk or Orton more often than not he can hold his own and deliver a fun contest, and this was no exception. The finish hurt it a bit but it makes perfect sense booking wise and for once they're actually trying to make you think Bryan has a shot with Punk having weak ribs and getting another beatdown from Kane here while Bryan dominated Ryder earlier, a far cry from their usual strategy of "Let's just book both guys to lose going into the PPV!", which has never made sense to me. Solid match, would have been better with a legit finish. **3/4

Cody Rhodes (21-24) vs. Santino Marella (6-5)
This is billed as a meeting of the IC and US champs (though neither title is on the line), but it's not like holding either of those belts actually means a thing these days, not when these two are used as jobbers to the stars most of the time. Match starts off hot with Cody missing a beautiful moonsault out of the corner before Santino quickly teases the Cobra. Cody gives him a dropkick instead though. Santino ducks a clothesline with the splits and then hits the Cobra out of nowhere for the anemic win at 2:00. Wow, with an epic encounter like that I'm so glad they put over how prestigious each title used to be once upon a time. One of these days they're going to find something, anything for Cody to do besides constantly job to everyone, and I'll be a happy fan that day. Match was ho-hum. 3/4*

Next we see the ENTIRE re-airing of the Big Show's "firing" on RAW, 'cause that's big news that is. Every time they show the footage of Show bawling his eyes out, I laugh hysterically. Maybe it's because I've grown incredibly tired of him constantly squashing hot young talent while offering almost nothing in return, but I found his whole firing segment to be unintentionally hilarious. Bad acting, goofy delivery, and at the end of it I was just hoping this might lead to less Big Show on my TV.

Sheamus (32-16-1) vs. Randy Orton (31-10-1)

Non-title match here of course since the four-way is this Sunday. They start off with a lock up all technical like but it's not long before it breaks down into a round of fisticuffs. Orton clotheslines Sheamus out of the ring and they trade shots outside before Sheamus counters an Irish whip, sending Orton shoulder-first into the steel steps. Sheamus tries for the Brogue Kick but hits the steel post instead, and Orton slams Sheamus down against the steps before slamming his arm and shoulder several times back into the steel. We take a break and when we return Orton is still working over Sheamus, in the ring now. Shoulder-breaker from Orton as Randy continues to dissect the Irishman's shoulder, which if you'll remember was taped up and injured only a week ago and was a focus of his match with Bryan on that show. Sheamus manages to send Orton to the apron, where he knees him hard in the face and then begins laying in his signature hammer-fists in between the ropes before bumping Orton off the apron and into the barricade as we take our last commercial break. When we return Sheamus has taken the advantage with a chinlock. Orton tries breaking it off but eats a knee to the gut. Rolling senton from Sheamus and he sets up for the Celtic Cross, but Orton counters into his over-the-shoulder backbreaker. Powerslam from Orton and he follows it with a new trick, a belly-to-belly suplex to Sheamus. Nice to see Randy throwing more suplexes into his arsenal. Sheamus counters right back with the slingshot shoulder-block though and follows it with a high running knee and a bodyslam for a near fall. Orton manages to block the Irish Curse backbreaker once, but takes the move on the second attempt. Sheamus climbs to the top rope, but Orton just meets him up there and delivers a towering superplex! Back on their feet both men are brawling when Sheamus looks for (and misses) another Brogue Kick attempt, which leaves him wide open for the second-rope DDT from Orton. He looks for the RKO but Sheamus avoids it and tries for the Brogue Kick again, but Orton avoids that as well and Sheamus winds up rolling up Orton for the clean pin at 16:01 (shown). Excellent main event this week between two men who've become familiar with one another, this was so much better than their Royal Rumble 2010 match or even some of their matches last winter. They put Sheamus over big here with a clean pin on one of the golden boys in Orton and they gave the match enough time for both men to fit in some of their usual stuff along with some new bits so the whole thing just came together nicely in the end. I would absolutely LOVE to see more 15+ minute long matches shown on TV time like this. Only (minor) problem was that the two commercial breaks hurt the flow a bit. Still, great stuff. ***1/4

After the match both men shake hands seemingly in a sign of respect when Orton gives the champ the RKO out of nowhere! Decent amount of boos for that and we go off the air with Orton looking smug over a fallen Sheamus.

Bottom Line: Damn good show from Smackdown this week after a bit of a misstep last week. Solid Punk/Kane match in the middle of the show that actually left me wanting to see more of it with a clean finish, a great main event that got over 15 minutes of TV time (which almost never happens anymore) and ended cleanly between two of the top dogs on the show, and even the usual quickie match stuff was kept quick and inoffensive. Really I've got no complaints about this show apart from a few minor quibbles in personal taste with the current booking and use of a few talents, but that's not a big deal. Easy Thumbs Up tonight.

Rating: 8.0/10

Sunday, May 13, 2012

TNA Sacrifice 2012

TNA Sacrifice 2012
May 13th, 2012
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's LIVE TNA PPV coverage. I am your loyal host and recapper tonight once again and though Sacrifice hasn't exactly been known as a blow-away event in years past for the company, this year's card doesn't look half bad with a ladder match between Bobby Roode and Rob Van Dam for the TNA World Title set as our main event an undercard featuring Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson, Austin Aries vs. Bully Ray, and a tag title match between Joe & Magnus and Daniels & Kaz among others. If most of those matches can deliver, I'll be a happy customer. Hard-sell over, let's start the show!

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

TNA Tag Team Title Match
Samoa Joe/Magnus
© vs. Christopher Daniels/Kazarian
Looks like we're starting off tonight with the tag title match. Magnus and Daniels start off trading wristlocks before Magnus gets the upper hand with a pair of scoop slams. Magnus delivers a beautiful vertical suplex to Daniels and Joe tags in to lay in some rights before Daniels is able to bail finally to catch his breath and tag Kaz in. Joe tags Magnus back in and the faces put together a few double team moves. Daniels tris Magnus up from the floor and Kaz hits him with a springboard leg-drop before tagging Chris back in. Daniels works over Magnus a bit as the camera shows Joseph Park, the brother of Abyss, in the audience. Kaz tags in to continue working Magnus over with a bow and arrow stretch, but Magnus is able to break free and get the hot tag to Joe. Joe does his signature walk-away spot as Daniels misses a moonsault and eats the uranage out of the corner from Joe. Daniels takes Magnus down with a judo toss (even though he's not legal) for a two count. He tries the BME but misses and Joe nails him with a pele kick just as Magnus hits the top rope elbow drop. That combo usually ends it for the champs, but Kaz breaks up the pin. Joe gets sent out of the ring and the heels hit a variation of Total Elimination on Magnus to pick up the win and the titles at 10:54. Match was just as solid as you'd expect out of these four, but I have to question taking the belts off of Joe and Magnus just as they were really starting to get over and come into their own as a team. Good opener, but it lacked a certain spark. **3/4

Taz and Tenay put over the usual social media blabber.

TNA Knockouts Title Match
Gail Kim
© vs. Brooke Tessmacher
If only Brooke could wrestle half as well as she looks. She takes it right to Gail at the bell with a monkey flip and Brooke looks to use Gail's own finisher, Eat Defeat, on her to no avail. Clothesline from Gail and she follows with a cross-body in the corner. Backbreaker from Kim and she stretches Brooke out a bit until the challenger is able to break it up and build up a bit of momentum with a nice elbow drop from the top for a two count. Brooke nails the champ with her own finisher, Eat Defeat, but the move sends Gail out of the ring and by the time Brooke brings her back in, she's able to kick out. Gail crawls away and when Brooke chases after her, she rolls her up and puts her feet on the ropes for extra leverage to get the cheap win and retain at 6:54. This was actually much better than I was expecting and I might have to take my opening comments back because Brooke seems to have actually improved a good bit in the ring. Cheap finish, but you come to expect that from the KO division. **

Backstage the new TNA Tag Team champions Kazarian and Christopher Daniels are with Jeremy Borash. Instead of talking about their title win though they go right into talking about AJ Styles again. Can we PLEASE get something for Daniels and Kaz to do that doesn't involve AJ Styles for once? Pretty please?

TNA Television Title Match
© vs. Robbie E vs. Robbie T.
Who booked this crap? Devon makes a fool out of both guys early, sending T out and slamming E to the mat with a uranage before T pulls him out of the ring for a sloppy clothesline. Back inside the heels double-team Devon some more as Robbie E gets a few near-falls. Devon sends E out of the ring and eats a running powerslam from T, but E hits the ring to break up the count. The heels argue for a bit until Devon rolls Robbie E up to retain at 5:34. About as exciting as your average Xplosion main event---which is to say not very. Lord knows why this company feels the need to have Devon carrying the TV title when it could be used to get a young talent over. Blegh. 1/2*

Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson
Odd to see these two so low on the card, but maybe it'll motivate them to step their game up. Both men slap hands at the bell in a sign of respect and then lock up. Wristlock exchange and Hardy dropkicks Anderson out of the ring. He sends Anderson face first into the steel steps and Hardy pulls the steps out for the Whisper in the Wind, but Anderson moves and Hardy crashes into the steel guardrail instead. Back inside Hardy hits a Russian legsweep and a leg-drop to the abdomen. Anderson blocks the slingshot dropkick in the corner with a pair of boots and tries for a few near-falls. Anderson starts to work over Jeff's arm, trapping it behind him and slamming him to the mat. Hardy is able to break it up and nail Anderson with his own finisher, the Mic Check, but only gets two. Anderson responds by hitting Hardy with his own finisher, the Twist of Fate, but Hardy kicks out at two as well. Anderson tries a Swanton, but Hardy gets the knees up. He hits his own Swanton, but Anderson kicks out again! Jeff tries the legdrop to the abdomen again, but Anderson blocks it and counters into a roll-up that Hardy appears to kick out of at the last milli-second, but the bell rings and apparently the ref counted to three, giving Anderson the odd win at 11:55. On replay it appears Jeff absolutely kicked out before 3. The match itself was good but not quite up to some of Jeff's matches in the last few months, and the weird finish didn't help matters. Still, this is the match of the night so far. ***

Christy Hemme is backstage with the Greatest Man That Ever Lived, Austin Aries. She asks him a question from a fan on Twitter about whether he's intimidated by Bully Ray, and Aries scoffs at the question. He tells us it's about skill, not size, and tonight he's going to show Ray who the better man is.

After a quick replay of the return of Abyss on Impact this past week we cut to Jeremy Borash, whose in the audience with the brother of Abyss, Joseph Park. The fans even start a "Joseph!" chant for him, proving once and for all that the Impact Zone will literally chant for anything and anyone. He says he's going to kick back and watch Austin Aries kick Bully Ray's ass.

Crimson makes his way out next to cut a promo. Heelish Crimson is so much more tolerable than babyface Crimson. He was originally set to take on Matt Morgan here but the company apparently ran out of contractual appearances for him, which seems like something you'd be able to avoid. Crimson issues an open challenge, brings in a ref, and has him begin counting to 10 even though no one's here. Before the ten count though Eric Young and ODB come out and apparently EY is here to accept the challenge.

Crimson vs. Eric Young
EY locks up with the ref when he hits the ring but then realizes he's wrestling Crimson and clotheslines the big man out of the ring. It's not long before Crimson has taken the upper hand though, tossing Young out of the ring easily. ODB tries to get in Crimson's face to defend her man, but Crimson shoves her into the corner, enraging Young who strips off his pants to reveal an American flag pair of tights. He cleans house on Crimson then hits an elbow drop, but ODB gets sent out of the ring in the process. When he goes to check on her Crimson pulls him around and hits him with the Red Sky to pick up the win at around 5:00 (the "official bell" started before Young ever even came out). Pretty much just an excuse to get Crimson a quick pin in lieu of the blow-off match with Morgan, inoffensive but nothing particularly good. Heel Crimson > Face Crimson though, easily. *

Backstage Bully Ray tells Jeremy Borash that he doesn't mess with that TWITTAH thing, no, he's old-school....he still rocks MySpace! He tells Aries that he won't be able to get him into the brainbuster tonight, no matter how big his heart is. Awesome promo from Ray, as usual.

Austin Aries vs. Bully Ray

The build for this one has been great with these two exchanging excellent promos for weeks. Both men start trash-talking in each other's face at the bell and the crowd is hot for Aries as he looks to lock up, but Ray ducks out instead. Ray spits right in his face and Aries fires back with big rights and lefts in the corner. Aries bites a chunk out of Ray's pride and joy (his calves) and the fans love it. Aries climbs to the top rope but Ray boots him right off the top and he just plummets back and head first into the steel guardrail! Holy shit, Austin Aries is DEAD. That was one of the sickest bumps I've ever seen, and Aries has several straight up neon-purple bruises and welts on his back already from that. I'm still cringing from that bump a full two minutes later as the crowd chants "Bully sucks!" Ray works a brief bear hug but Aries breaks it up with big Mongolian chops. Ray lays in some chops on Austin but he just stands right back up and demands to know if that's all he's got. Ray responds with a chop so stiff it would make Kobashi cringe but Aries won't stay down, as he gets back to his feet and asks Ray for some more, but instead of obliging Ray goes right for an eye-rake like a true heel. Aries slips out of a powerbomb attempt and hits a discus elbow, but Ray responds by launching him 10 feet into the air and giving him an Ace Crusher in mid-air! Somehow Aries still kicks out though. Ray grabs a steel chain from ringside and this brings Joseph Park down to ringside to try and alert the ref. Ray brings him onto the rampway and grabs a chair, but turns around only to meet the heat-seeking missile tope from Aries. Back inside Aries hits a missile dropkick then nails Ray with the brainbuster! He actually got him up for it! Ray kicks out at two though to everyone's shock. Ray tries for a powerbomb again but Aries slides out of the move at the last second, flips over, and applies the Last Chancery submission to Ray...and Ray taps out! Aries picks up the win at 13:17. This totally exceeded all of the expectations I had going in, I was expecting a solid big/little man contest but what we got here was so much more. Aries took one of the sickest beatdowns I've ever seen (including a bump on the railing so sickening it would make an early 90s Cactus Jack blush) to build up just fantastic heat for the finish, which practically had the place coming unglued by the time Aries hit the brainbuster. Excellent story told here from both men, kudos. ***3/4

Backstage AJ Styles is with Jeremy Borash to voice concern over his match with Angle next if he isn't focused. He doesn't want to talk about the Dixie Carter photos though, he's just here to wrestle damnit.

AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle

We've probably seen this match twenty times in the past, but considering how awesome they usually are, I can't exactly complain. Great amateur sequence to start with Angle gaining the upper-hand predictably. Leapfrog from AJ and he blocks a belly-to-belly attempt before both men tease going for their finishers (the Styles Clash and ankle lock respectively) unsuccessfully. Side headlock by Angle, but AJ breaks it up with a dropkick and tries a headlock of his own. Angle gets sent to the floor and AJ tries for a pescado as Angle moves and he lands on his feet. Angle tries a German suplex on the floor, but AJ flips over onto his feet in a neat spot. Back in the ring he can't block the overhead belly-to-belly suplex from Kurt though. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Kurt and he follows with a back-body drop. AJ hits a fireman's carry slam on Angle, nailing his neck over AJ's knee in the process. Angle blocks another Styles Clash attempt but gets sent out to the floor, where AJ nails him with a springboard forearm off the top rope. Back in the ring Kurt sets Styles up on the top turnbuckle and then belly-to-belly suplexes him off for two. Styles hits the pele kick out of nowhere though and then follows with the Styles Clash, but this is TNA remember so of course it only gets two. Does anyone's finisher ever actually FINISH a match anymore? Release German suplex from Angle takes Styles inside out. Both men trade forearms and Kurt avoids the backflip-into-reverse DDT spot Styles is famous for before hitting the Angle Slam (only for two of course). Angle looks to hit AJ with his own Styles Clash, but AJ blocks it and the follow up ankle lock attempt from Kurt. Kurt turns him around and tries for the Clash yet again, and this time he connects, but again Styles kicks out. Angle misses the moonsault and Styles goes for the springboard 450, but doesn't get quite enough air though and can't complete the second rotation, turning it into a flipping back senton of sorts instead. Kazarian and Daniels run down to ringside now though and trip Styles up behind the ref's back, allowing Angle to hit the Angle Slam...but AGAIN Styles kicks out so Kurt just locks him into the ankle lock and Styles taps out at 20:51. After the match Daniels and Kaz jump Styles again, but Angle makes the save for his opponent. Face turn for Kurt? The match itself wasn't as good as some of the classics these two have had in the past, but when you've got Angle and Styles in the ring together, even when they're off it's still a great contest. Some smart psychology behind some of the counters too. ***1/2

We get another "Top Ten Moments of TNA" clip, this time highlighting Kurt Angle's insane moonsault off the top of the cage against Mr. Anderson back at Lockdown 2010, which is still one of the craziest spots of the last few years.

Elsewhere backstage Jeremy Borash is with the World champion Bobby Roode, who doesn't feel right without the World title around his waist right now. He makes the usual promise of victory and takes off as we get the pre-match hype package.

TNA World Title Ladder Match
Robert Roode
© vs. Rob Van Dam
Good thing they turned this into a ladder match because I'm not sure anyone really card about a non-gimmick match between these two. Barely a minute passes before both men are out on the floor to no one's surprise as RVD drapes Roode over the guardrail and hits his trademark spinning leg-drop off the apron on him. Back in the ring Roode nails a DDT. He slides out of the ring to grab a ladder but turns around just as RVD slingshot-flips himself out of the ring onto him. Back inside Roode jumps Rob from behind and sets up the ladder in the corner, but winds up getting sent face-first into it instead. Jeremy Borash for some reason is one of our camera-men outside the ring, as I guess JB really DOES do just about every odd job for this company at times. RVD gets catapulted face-first into the ladder in the corner and Roode slams it over his back for a bit of good measure. Bobby sets up the ladder against the second rope and tries for a suplex, but RVD counters with a suplex of his own onto the ladder before hitting a beautiful Lionsault on Roode against the ladder. RVD scissors his legs around Roode's legs and sends his back of the head into the ladder yet again as these guys just aren't wasting any time getting to the spots. Rob grabs a chair from ringside and hits the running dropkick on Roode in the corner with the ladder draped over him (double the steel and only half the price!). RVD grabs another, oddly colored ladder and tries climbing it, but Roode climbs up to meet him at the top and sends him off lazily. Rob knocks Roode off the ladder by sheer accident but eats a lariat. Huge spinebuster from Roode sends Van Dam back-first onto the new ladder in a nasty spot. Not to be out-done, Rob sends the champ into the second ladder with a big monkey flip and then follows up with the Rolling Thunder. RVD sets Roode up on another ladder in the center of the ring and then tries for the Five Star Frog Slash from the top rope, but Roode moves and Van Dam eats steel. Roode sets up the ladder and tries to climb it when Van Dam makes his way back to the ring and tries to leap from th top rope onto the ladder, but his side of the ladder collapses under his leg and Rob crashes to the mat in an ugly botch. Rob is able to recover but Roode sends him off the ladder again, this time sending Van Dam's skull into a steel chair on the mat. This allows Roode to grab the title and retain at 15:26. Aside from the botch at the finish this was your usual fun car-crash ladder match with both guys just going straight to the crazy high spots because of the lack of time left on the show. Still, RVD really is great in these kinds of matches and this was non-stop action the whole way through. I could have definitely used another five minutes here instead of, say, Crimson vs. Eric Young earlier in the evening, but otherwise a good way to close out a solid show. ***1/2

We go off the air with RVD checking in with some trainers at ringside about his possibly injured ankle while Roode celebrates with his title in the ring.

Bottom Line: Well I said that as long as all of the main matches on this show delivered in one way or another I'd be a satisfied customer, and that's exactly what happened. The tag title opener was solid if unspectacular, Aries/Ray was an outstanding slice of superb storytelling, Styles/Angle was it's usual goodness, and the main event delivered the high spot fest fun you expect from a ladder match. Everything else was pretty disposable, but I doubt anyone bought this show for the TV title match. Solid show with a good crowd for once (unlike Lockdown last month) and a pretty easy Thumbs Up even if there was nothing amazing here.

Rating: 7.0/10

Friday, May 11, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 5/11/12

WWE Friday Night Smackdown
May 11th, 2012
Roanoke Civic Center, Roanoke, Virginia
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's WWE Smackdown report, I am your loyal recapper as always. Hard to believe we're little more than a week away from the next PPV, but that's the norm in the modern WWE. With the World Heavyweight title match at the PPV being changed from Sheamus/Del Rio to a fourway including Chris Jericho and Randy Orton, which was definitely the right choice because I don't think anyone could have given less of a shit about a Sheamus/Del Rio match or feud. Without any more preambling, let's jump into the thick of things.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

Sheamus/Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho/Alberto Del Rio

Solid looking tag involving all four men in the fatal fourway to kick off the show, I like it. Orton and Sheamus trade angry tags to start against Jericho, teasing the dissension already. Del Rio tags in and goes right to working on Orton's arm. Randy shoves him off and tags Sheamus back in, who delivers a rolling senton to Alberto before being low-bridged out of the ring by Jericho on the apron. Jericho tags in and works a loose Fujiwara armbar on Sheamus. Sheamus breaks it up and tags Orton back in. Powerslam from Orton on Jericho and he follows it with the second-rope DDT. You know what's coming next. Jericho shoves off the RKO attempt only to turn around into a dropkick from Orton though. Del Rio and Sheamus hop in now to join the action as well and barely two seconds pass before the ref is already calling for the bell to throw out the match at 5:18. Are you kidding me? Since when did referees throw out tag matches because all four men were in the ring for a whopping 5-10 seconds? That has to be the cheapest cheap finish in the history of cheap finishes, I have never in my life seen a referee throw a match out because all four men were in the ring for barely FIVE SECONDS. To call that a stupid and insulting finish would be an understatement, which is a shame because the match was going along quite nicely until that monumentally dumb ending. *3/4

After the match all four men continue brawling into the commercial break. When we return Cole informs us that Sheamus will take on Chris Jericho and Orton will take on Del Rio later tonight. That almost makes up for the finish to that tag match.

AJ (5-10) vs. Kaitlyn (1-9)
The battle of the BFFs! Total catfight to start with AJ going right for the hair-pulling and clawing. She hits an awkward dropkick to her mid-section and then finishes Kaitlyn off with a nice Shining Wizard at 0:35 seconds. Not much of a match obviously, just something to set up what's about to happen. 1/4*

After the match Daniel Bryan makes his way out to the ring, and he seems impressed by how ruthless AJ was in the ring with her former best-friend. Bryan says he's seeing her in an entirely new light and that he's ready to move past all of the tension in their relationship (once he's become WWE champion at Over the Limit of course) and ready to move on...TO KAITLYN! He laughs in AJ's face and she storms off in a rage. Bryan heels it up some more with some YES! chants just to close up this entire golden segment. Bryan is taking the slimy, narcissistic heel boyfriend character to new levels of awesome and I can't wait to see how this plays out now that he has his eye on Kaitlyn, AJ's best friend.

Daniel Bryan (15-21-1) vs. Big Show (24-6)
We return from the break with Bryan still in the ring for his match-up against the Big Show, who of course dominates to start with those frying-pan sized hand chops. Bryan tries to fire off some kicks but eats another slap. Show looks for the spear but Bryan kicks his leg from out under him. Bryan locks in the YES! Lock and the bell rings before the submission is even fully locked in and without Show ever tapping at 1:17. Johnny Ace pops up from the timekeeper's table out of nowhere to announce Daniel Bryan as the winner, as yes, they can't even give Bryan a half-way decent win going into his WWE title match at the PPV, opting instead for the ten thousandth Montreal Screwjob rehash. Boy they are really killing any interest I had in this show with these atrocious finishes. 1/4*

After the match Bryan takes off as Ace hits the ring to make Show apologize for mocking his voice on RAW this week. He makes him call him "Sir" and then tells him to prepare for another apology on RAW. Don't care.

Heath Slater is in the ring when we return. He lisps his way through a mediocre heel promo on Ryback, so you can guess where this is going.

Ryback (5-0) vs. Heath Slater (4-30)
Ryback has pyro now apparently to go along with his transition from squashing no-name jobbers to in-house jobbers. Well, atleast he's progressing. Your usual Ryback squash match follows with Slater trying to get in some feisty offense to start only to be totally dominated and pinned with the marching Samoan drop at 1:18. Your usual 1998 Goldberg squash match. 1/4*

Antonio Cesaro (1-0) vs. Alex Riley (0-1)
Riley doesn't even get an entrance anymore, poor schmoe. Cesaro is with Aksana again. Cesaro tosses Riley to the mat with a vicious waistlock to start and then boots him in the face in the corner. Vicious gut-wrench suplex from Cesaro, who really shows off his strength by tossing Riley around like he was a pillow. Riley is able to get some offense in with a few clotheslines, but Cesaro grabs Riley by his EAR of all things and then finishes him with the cradle-piledriver slam at 2:24. Claudio/Cesaro continues to look absolutely stellar each week and though it may be a bit early to say I think he's got a promising future ahead of him in the WWE. After the match Aksana tells Teddy that Antonio's her lover. SHOCK! *1/4

Randy Orton (30-10-1) vs. Alberto Del Rio (11-9)
Orton takes it right to Del Rio from the bell, catapulting him throat-first into the bottom rope. Del Rio goes for the armwork again, bodyslamming Orton to the mat with his arm trapped behind him. Del Rio blocks the second-rope DDT and hits a nice step-up enziguri on Orton for a two count. Orton responds with the over-the-shoulder backbreaker but Del Rio counters with a vicious armbreaker. Orton blocks the cross-armbar attempt and then DDTs Del Rio from the second rope in the corner. Orton sets up for the RKO but Ricardo Rodriguez leaps into the ring to interfere and gets RKO-ed in mid-air, which still somehow calls for the DQ at 5:18. Definitely the best match of the night so far up until the non-finish, but this time you expected it and it really doesn't particularly hurt either man so I'm okay with it. **

R-Truth (8-5) vs. Jack Swagger (9-11)
Apparently Truth and Kofi will be defending the tag belts against Ziggler and Swagger at the PPV, and that could actually be pretty good if given time. Truth hits the dancing leg-drop to start for a one count while Primo, Epico, and company watch on from backstage. Swagger tries a chinlock but Truth breaks it up with a DDT. Corkscrew elbow from Truth, but Ziggler pulls Truth out of the ring at the count of two. Kofi takes out Ziggler outside the ring but this provides the distraction for Swagger to ambush Truth. Kofi hits the Trouble in Paradise on Swagger behind the ref's back and then Truth finishes him off with the Little Jimmy at 3:19. Nothing wrong with this match and segment here, just a quick thing to move along the tag team title program. Harmless stuff. *

Titus O'Neill/Darren Young vs. Zack Ryder/Santino Marella
Remember when we thought Ryder was actually getting a push? Good times. Titus starts off dominating Santino, then tags Darren in. Young delivers a back suplex to Santino then tags Titus in, who gives his own partner a gourdbuster onto Santino's chest in a nice display of teamwork. Santino manages to escape a chinlock and tag Ryder in, who cleans house on the heels before hitting Darren with the Broski Boot for a two count. Titus trips Ryder up so Santino goes after him with the Cobra, but Young wipes him out from behind. Ryder and Young are the legal men back in the ring as Titus hops back in to drape Ryder over his knee while Young hits an elbow drop off the top rope, a double-team move Booker calls the "Ghetto Blaster", to pick up the win at 3:04. O'Neill and Young are starting to look more comfortable together and could actually make a decent heel tag team believe it or not, despite how badly each man sucks individually they aren't half bad together. After the match Titus and Young get on the mic to dance and taunt the fans a bit about their "millions of dollars" (that's a funny one).  *

Backstage Matt Striker is with Damien Sandow, who cuts another smarmy and pretentious promo about how he's here to save all of us poor cretins.

"The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay vs. Hunico
Camacho jumps Clay with Hunico before the bell ever rings, but the beatdown only serves to pump him up more for when the match actually starts. Clay flattens Hunico with a backdrop then tosses him halfway across the ring with a big t-bone suplex before pinning him with the What the Funk splash at 0:57 seconds. You know I was just thinking to myself that this show needed more short squash matches. 1/4*

Sheamus (32-15-1) vs Chris Jericho (2-0)
Main event time though we've only got less than ten minutes left in TV time and you know damn well this isn't going to finish clean so I'm not expecting much. Booker tries to claim Jericho's return has been a huge success, despite him thoroughly and cleanly losing every feud and big match he's been involved in since that return. Sheamus uses his power early, getting Jericho tied up in the ropes and laying in the ten hammer-fists before bouncing Jericho off the mat and into the barricade as we take our last commercial break. When we return Sheamus hits a slingshot shoulder-block on Jericho for a two count. Jericho targets the injured shoulder of Sheamus and then dropkicks him off of the apron to the floor. Back inside Jericho hits another dropkick then lands on his feet in a Lionsault attempt. Sheamus hits him with a running knee but then gets caught in the Walls of Jericho but he gets the rope break eventually and then back-drops Jericho out of the ring. Del Rio runs out and tosses Jericho into the steps for the DQ finish though at 5:45 (shown). About as good as the Del Rio/Orton match from earlier, though the commercial break hurt it's flow a bit. Another cheap finish, but again, this one was atleast expected. **

After the match all four men involved in the fatal fourway hit the ring, where the faces give Del Rio their finishers while Jericho sneaks off as we go off the air.

Bottom Line: Well that was...a show. I wish I had something good to say about the show but outside of some angle advancement this was pretty much two hours of filler TV, chock full of 2 minute matches with shitty finishes. It seems like everytime this show builds up some good will with me after a good show like last week's, they return the next week with a stinker like this one. Feel free to skip this whole show as there's really nothing here worth your time outside of a quick and interesting development in the Bryan/AJ angle. Thumbs Down.

Score: 3.5/10

Friday, May 4, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 5/4/12

WWE Friday Night SmackDown
May 4th, 2012
Huntington Center, Toledo, Ohio
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's WWE Smackdown report from yours truly. We're only five days removed from the Extreme Rules PPV and the colossal encounter that was Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena, but there's no time to rest as we're already only a few weeks away from the next PPV, Over the Limit. Tonight's show looks to be a solid one on paper with an Extreme Rules rematch between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan being advertised, so let's jump right into the thick of things and hope tonight's show is better than that dreadful RAW earlier this week.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show with the World Heavyweight champion, Sheamus, making his way out to the ring. He tells us just how much he loves to fight, and that's exactly what he's come to do tonight with Daniel Bryan (big YES! chant starts up before Sheamus steals the thunder and starts leading the fans in the chant). Really? They're just going to take this incredibly over chant that was totally Bryan's idea and baby and just start handing it out to babyfaces just because the fans love to chant it and Bryan's a heel? Bryan, the number one contender to CM Punk's WWE title, interrupts and makes his way down to the ring as apparently we're going to kick-start the show with our Extreme Rules rematch

Sheamus (30-15-1) vs. Daniel Bryan (15-19-2)
Sheamus goes for a shoulder-block at the bell but starts favoring his arm, selling the injury from the Extreme Rules match (big points to Sheamus there). Bryan hits a drop-toe hold and tries for a wristlock but Sheamus just socks him in the jaw. Bryan comes back with a big armbreaker though and then stomps away at the Irishman in the corner. Sheamus drives his shoulder into Bryan's stomach in the corner and then clotheslines him out of the ring when all of a sudden Ricardo Rodriguez leaps into the ring and takes out Sheamus off the top rope with a cross-body to draw the DQ at 2:49. Del Rio hops in to give Sheamus the cross armbar afterwards and then Bryan gives him the YES! Lock as well to work over the injured arm even further. Well that wasn't much of a rematch, but it started off very good before the run-in. Hopefully this isn't the last we've seen of these two tonight though. *1/2

Backstage after the break Sheamus gets checked on by a doctor and writhes in pain.

Kofi Kingston/R-Truth vs. Hunico/Camacho
Oh, right, Kofi and Truth are the tag champs. I forgot about that in about twenty seconds. Non-title match here and Epico, Primo, Rosa Mendes, and A.W. all come out to watch. Truth and Hunico start off with Truth hitting a nice Japanese armdrag before tagging Kofi in, who hits a flying forearm from the top rope. Kofi gets sent out of the ring and Camacho lariats him behind the ref's back. Back in the ring Camacho tags in and hits a big legdrop on Kingston. Hunico tags back in with a slingshot dropkick in the corner and they tease the tag between Kofi and Truth with Hunico holding him back briefly before being monkey flipped, allowing Truth to get the hot tag. Truth hits Camacho with the corkscrew elbow and then launches Kofi over his head into mid-air where he gives Hunico a big hurricanrana out of the ring, taking a page out of the Billy Kidman/Rey Mysterio handbook. Truth hits Camacho with the Little Jimmy (god that name is terrible) to pick up the win at 4:07. Damn, that was a hell of an energetic little four minute match, I would have loved to have seen more of that. Truth and Kofi don't make much sense as a tag team but they do work well together and Hunico and Camacho make a great addition to the tag division. **1/4

"The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay (4-4) vs. Jack Swagger (9-10)
Clay hits a belly-to-belly suplex right at the bell and then takes Jack's head off with a clothesline. Dolph Ziggler distracts Clay long enough for Swagger to tackle him out of the ring, where Ziggler eats another headbutt from Clay when he tries to interfere. T-bone suplex from Clay and he tries for the What the Funk splash, but Swagger leaves the ring...and gets intentionally counted out at 1:43. Wait, so Clay can squash Ziggler clean but they need to protect Swagger? Huh? Some little kids hit the ring to dance with Clay after the match. 3/4*

Highlights of the attack on John Cena by John Laurinaitis and Lord Tensai from RAW. OTL is going to bomb if Cena/Ace is the planned main event. Michael Cole informs us that Laurinaitis has taken a personal day tonight and isn't here.

Backstage Eve breaks up an arguing Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio. Bryan says he would have beaten Sheamus if Del Rio didn't interfere but Del Rio doesn't care since he's the number one contender for the WHC. Bryan demands that he and Sheamus wrestle again tonight, and Eve tells him that she'll decide if they wrestle again after talking to the doctors.

Up next we've got Damien Sandow vs. Derrick Bateman, which is Sandow's debut after weeks of pretaped promos and he comes out to a deliciously pretentious choral rendering of "Hallelujah" (or some similar sounding hymn, I'm not great with those) as his theme music before cutting an excellent heel promo about how he doesn't want to wrestle a "miscreant" and "ignaramus" like Bateman for his debut. Bateman mentions that he apparently earned this match FIVE MONTHS AGO on NXT, so he wants to wrestle someone. Boy, what a prestigious prize. Sandow takes off and Ryback comes out as his opponent of course. Guess where this is going. Go on, guess.

Ryback (4-0) vs. Derrick Bateman (0-1)
Petty offense from Bateman while the crowd chants "Goldberg!" at Ryback. He hits a neat backpack chinbreaker and a lariat before finishing off Bateman moments later with the marching Samoan drop at 1:12. Squash city. 1/4*

Randy Orton/Big Show vs. Kane/Cody Rhodes
Not a bad looking match for the middle of the show. Orton and Rhodes start us off with Orton takes the upper hand with a lariat. Show tags in and drives his backside into Cody in the corner before bodyslamming him and tagging Randy back in. Dropkick from Orton and Cody tags Kane in. Kane goes to work on Randy's mid-section in the corner but Orton escapes and tags out to Show, who spears Kane and then tosses Cody into the ring for a big chop. Kane fires off a big DDT on Show as we take a commercial break. When we return Cody is working over Show before tagging out to Kane. Kane works over Show a bit before the big man is able to hit a huge back suplex and get the hot tag to Orton. Randy hits the powerslam on Cody but eats a right hand from Kane when he tries for the second-rope DDT so Orton just hits Kane with the DDT instead. Kane blocks the RKO and Cody low-bridges Orton out of the ring as the crowd goes from nearly exploding to dead in seconds (that's good heel work). Kane boots Orton outside the ring and covers him back inside for a two count. Cody tags back in and hits a big dropkick for his own near fall before tagging Kane back in. Orton is able to hit the over-the-shoulder backbreaker on Kane but he wanders into the wrong corner looking for a tag and the heels exchange tags again, cutting Orton off from his corner. Cody applies a chinlock but Orton fights it off and then counters the Cross-Rhodes attempt with a back body drop. Randy gets the tag to Show, who cleans house on Cody. He looks for the chokeslam, but Kane breaks it up with the top rope clothesline. He turns around right into an RKO from Orton however! Cody sends Orton out of the ring but Show hits him with the WMD fist for the win at 10:44 (shown). Another really solid tag match here, I wasn't sure how well this one would gel but by the time hey hit the finish with everyone trading big moves everything was gravy. **3/4

Backstage Matt Striker tries to get a word with Sheamus about whether he'll wrestle Bryan tonight, and Sheamus tells him yes.

Layla (8-8) vs. Natalya (9-14)
I must say, Layla returning to win the title is just superbly random (where's Kharma?). Layla tries a headscissors on the mat to start but Nattie escapes and they trade wristlocks. Sweet spinning lariat from Natalya gets a two count. She tries for a slam but Layla counters with a roll through and hits a big neckbreaker for the win at 1:58. Your usual quick divas TV match here though Nattie showed a bit of fire. Hopefully Layla's just a placeholder until Kharma returns for good. 3/4*

Backstage Antonio Cesaro (the former Claudio Casagnoli) and Aksana take some photos with a photographer while Eve talks them on. Eve thinks Antonio looks dry though and Eve orders Teddy Long to rub oil on Cesaro. Awkwaaaard.

Elsewhere backstage AJ is full of remorse over striking Kaitlyn last week and tries to apologize. Kaitlyn tells her she was just being her friend but that this "pity party" over Daniel Bryan needs to stop. AJ rears back and bitch slaps her again for that comment and storms off. I shouldn't enjoy two hot women slapping each other so much.

Highlights of Brock Lesnar's attack on Triple H this past week on RAW.

Sheamus (31-15-1) vs. Daniel Bryan (15-20-2)
Alberto Del Rio comes out to join the commentary team before the match starts. Bryan goes right to work on the injured shoulder of Sheamus (now taped up) with kicks. Nasty shoulder-breaker from Bryan, but Sheamus counters with a big tilt-a-whirl slam. He tries for the Brogue Kick but Bryan avoids it and sends Sheamus out of the ring as we take our last commercial break. When we return Bryan is diving onto the shoulder of Sheamus outside the ring. Sheamus tries to return to the ring but Bryan sends him back out again and then sends him shoulder-first into the steel post. Back in the ring Bryan hits the diving headbutt off the top rope for a two count. Bryan manages to unwrap most of the bandages on the shoulder, but Sheamus sends him shoulder-first into the steel post in a taste of his own medicine. Sheamus rips off the bandages like a badass and then lays in the ten hammer-fist forearms on Bryan in-between the ropes not once, but twice, leaving Daniel's chest beet red. Sheamus suplexes Bryan back into the ring, but Bryan kicks out of the pin. Bryan hits a knee but Sheamus hits the Irish Curse backbreaker in response and then begins kneeing the ever loving bejesus out of Bryan on the apron. Bryan drapes the injured shoulder over the top rope and hits the missile dropkick from the top, but now it's Sheamus' turn to kick out. Bryan continues the shoulder-work but Sheamus lariats him inside-out 360 degrees in one of the sickest damn clotheslines I think I've ever seen, that was downright Hansen-esque. Del Rio hits the apron but Sheamus sends Bryan into him to bump him off the apron. Bryan tries for another missile dropkick from the top, but Sheamus BOOTS HIS HEAD OFF with the Brogue Kick for the win at 9:27 (shown). I was already digging this quite a bit but by the last few minutes Sheamus was just murdering Bryan and he was taking all the bumps like a champ as they just kicked this one into overdrive for the finish. This feud continues to be awesome when they actually give them time to wrestle, what a shocker. Great TV match. ***1/4

We close out the show with Sheamus celebrating in the ring as Bryan lays dead and Del Rio storms off up the ramp with Rodriguez.

Bottom Line: This was an excellent show tonight from the blue brand, they gave time to several matches and the results were a few solid ones and an excellent main event between Sheamus and D-Bry. The tag match in the middle of the show was good as well and got time which is exactly the kind of stuff I'd rather see carrying the mid-section of the show instead of three or four more 2 minute matches to be honest. Damn good little show from Smackdown tonight and an easy Thumbs Up.

Rating: 8.0/10

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

WWE Extreme Rules 2012

WWE Extreme Rules 2012
April 29th, 2012
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
Attendance: 14,817

Just when you thought it couldn't get any bigger than Rock/Cena at Wrestlemania last month, here we are less than a month later with the in-ring wrestling return of newly returned Brock Lesnar against John Cena in our main event tonight in an Extreme Rules match. Throw in several Wrestlemania rematches like Sheamus/Bryan, Jericho/Punk, and Kane/Orton that all have gimmicks and look to get time, and this looks like a pretty solid show on paper. We're in smark haven Chicago tonight (or Rosemont, rather) and this show has been highly anticipated since Lesnar's post-Mania return, so let's get under way with the pre-show streaming live on YouTube.

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Matt Striker

Pre-Show WWE United States Title Match
Santino Marella
© vs. The Miz
I know it's old news at this point but boy has Miz fallen down the card. He comes out with a mic before the match to complain about being on the pre-show this year when he main evented this show last year is interrupted by Santino before he can get his catch-phrase out. Santino low-bridges Miz to start and sends him out of the ring. Miz narrowly avoids the Cobra back inside and bails for a breather. He boots Santino in the face and then follows up with a high knee. Running clothesline in the corner from Miz and he follows with a double axe handle off the top for a two count. He knees Santino over the apron but gets caught with a shot to the gut on his way back into the ring. Santino starts his comeback, hitting the splits before following with the hip-toss/diving headbutt combo. Santino tries for The Cobra but Miz blocks it. Miz misses a clothesline in the corner and Santino nails him with the Cobra to retain at 4:39. Your typical quickie pre-show match here, but Santino always does a good job to get the fans fired up to start the show. Poor Miz. *1/2

Backstage during the pre-show we see Eve Torres and Teddy Long alongside Cody Rhodes and Big Show and an EXTREME roulette wheel (all rights reserved, JD Dunn) to pick what stipulation their IC title match will have later. Teddy spins the wheel and it lands on a Tables Match. Now onto the main show.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T

Falls Count Anywhere Match
Randy Orton vs. Kane

Lots of brawling to start from these two as Kane sends Orton to the floor early for a near fall on the floor. Kane grabs a lead pipe from under the ring but Orton cuts him off in the ring before he can use it and then grabs it and nails Kane with it a few times, bumping him back out to the floor. Both men start brawling into the crowd now, which you knew was coming. Orton knees Kane against a barricade for his own two count and the crowd's strongly behind him here. Kane bodyslams him on the concrete and then hits a nice running dropkick for two. They make their way out of the crowd over to the entrance ramp now where Orton hits a dropkick of his own on the concrete. Kane blocks an RKO attempt with a big boot. Both men begin brawling backstage now and I'm having flashbacks to your standard Attitude Era brawl. Backstage Zack Ryder pops up out of nowhere to jump Kane, though his punches only serve as a distraction for Orton to give him a backbreaker and don't actually do any damage. Kane tosses Orton into a series of steel pipes and then slams him into a doorway. Finally they make heir way back to the ring and "YES!" chants break out with every blow Randy delivers. Kane no-sells a clothesline but eats a powerslam. Orton grabs a steel chair and waffles Kane with it a half dozen or so times. The action spills back outside the ring as Randy strips the commentary table before giving Kane his trademark elevated DDT off of the table, but it only gets a two count. Kane blocks the RKO again and sends Orton into the steel post for another hot near fall. Kane tries to go for his top rope clothesline but Orton crotches him and superplexes him back into the ring. Kane blocks the RKO for a third time and gives him the chokeslam, but Orton barely manages to kick out as the crowd really bought into that near fall. Kane tries for a tombstone on the steel chair, but Orton wriggles out of his grip and gives him the RKO on the chair for the win at 16:46. This one took a bit to get going as the first portion of the match was mainly brawling but once they returned back to ringside and started trading hot near falls this one picked up in a hurry. Hopefully this puts an end to this feud, and if so they went out with a good one. ***1/4

Backstage Eve and John Laurinaitis toast with champagne that Teddy Long serves them. Teddy's ridiculously oversized name-tag is pretty funny. Johnny answers a cell phone call from Triple H after the toast and takes off to talk privately.

"The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler
Bonus match time, but what a freaking waste of the pure money that is Ziggler. Big "Let's Go Ziggler!" chant starts up from the smarks. Jack Swagger is outside the ring and briefly distracts Clay long enough for Dolph to dropkick him out the ring and allow Swagger to give him a football tackle behind the ref's back. Ziggler applies his sleeper hold back in the ring but Clay tosses him off eventually. Clay blocks a suplex with a gourdbuster and blocks the sleeper hold again with a stiff headbutt before finishing Ziggler off with the What the Funk splash at 4:17. Unless they plan on pushing Clay to the upper midcard and into the main event (not likely), I hate that they just fed Ziggler to him like he was a jobber. Clay is quickly starting to outstay his welcome and the crowd was not into him at all here, chanting for Ziggler the entire match. *

WWE Intercontinental Title Tables Match
Big Show
© vs. Cody Rhodes
Total domination from Show to start as usual, airing Cody out with a huge back body drop that might have legit sent him 10 feet into the air and out to the floor. Show sets up a table outside the ring and then beal tosses Cody like a sack of potatoes. Show sets up another table in a corner in the ring but when he tries to toss Cody through it, he leaps off it and nails Show with a knee. Show continues the beatdown on Cody outside the ring before tossing yet another table into the ring. He slips on the apron while trying to get back into the ring though and out of instinct puts his foot back on a table set up near the apron to break his fall, putting his foot through the table. Show looks like he just stepped on a priceless heirloom as the ref calls for the bell, giving Cody the win and the IC title back at 4:36. After the match Show spears Cody and chokeslams him through a table before press slamming him out of the ring through ANOTHER table. While I'm not a fan of this feud, they worked this match perfectly as Cody gets the title back in a fluke after Show dominated the entire match. That last table bump from Cody was nasty as well. *3/4

Daniel Bryan is backstage with Matt Striker. The three reasons Bryan is going to win his match tonight? 1: Bryan gets more chicks than Sheamus. 2: Bryan's beard is far manlier than Sheamus' will ever be, and 3: his stomach isn't full of corned beef. Bryan takes a shot at the Chicago crowd by saying they think too highly of themselves before leading them in a "YES!" chant. A sulking AJ watches on in the shadows as Bryan walks off. Perhaps a bit of foreshadowing?

World Heavyweight Title 2/3 Falls Match
© vs. Daniel Bryan
20 minutes or bust damnit. Sheamus is rocking a spiffy new "18 Seconds" t-shirt. Nice feeling out process to start with both men locking up and Sheamus nearly hits the Brogue Kick early. Sheamus catches Bryan right on his shoulders and hits the Finlay roll for a near fall. He rolls through a roll-up attempt from Bryan right into a nice Texas Clover Leaf submission as Bryan is barely able to get the rope break. Bryan back-flips out of the corner and hits a big clothesline on Sheamus before dropkicking him out to the floor. He tries the running knee off the apron but Sheamus catches him and dumps him spine-first into the barricade. Back in the ring Bryan works a variation of a bow and arrow hold on Sheamus and then goes all Destroyer on his ass by bending and twisting his fingers while he's in the hold. That's old-school right there. Bryan transitions into a hammerlock and then hits the Irishman with another dropkick. Stiff European uppercuts from Bryan and he chokes Sheamus over the second rope much to the referee's chagrin (he has until five, didn't you know?). Sheamus starts to catch his second wind now, nailing Bryan with a high knee lift before laying in the ten hammer-fists on Bryan in-between the ropes. Fallaway slam gets Sheamus a two count but he looks a bit gassed. Bryan tries for a top-rope frankensteiner but Sheamus holds on as Bryan crashes to the mat and then nails him with a diving shoulder-block off the top for another near fall. Bryan avoids a suplex attempt from the apron and low-bridges Sheamus back out of it. He sets up for a tope but Sheamus cuts him off with a forearm. Bryan rolls through the Celtic Cross for another near fall and then tries for the YES! Lock, but Sheamus fights it off before getting sent shoulder-first into the steel post. Bryan goes right to work on the shoulder now, slamming it repeatedly into the post. Bryan goes crazy kicking Sheamus in the shoulder while he's caught in the ropes and won't stop despite the ref's five count, so the ref winds up DQing him to give Sheamus the first fall at about 14:39, which the crowd doesn't like much.

Bryan doesn't seem to mind the DQ as the damage has been done to the shoulder and he goes right for the YES! Lock. Sheamus can't quite make it to the ropes but he won't tap out either, so Bryan just cranks away on the hold until Sheamus presumably passes out. The ref calls for the bell and awards Bryan the second fall via stoppage at 16:39, evening the match at one fall apiece.

Bryan leads the crowd in some glorious "YES!" chanting while a trainer comes into the ring to check on Sheamus. Eventually the Celtic Warrior wakes up and nods that he's ready for the third fall. Bryan charges in on him but Sheamus nails him with an awkward Brogue Kick out of the corner. Sheamus takes too long to cover him though and Bryan kicks out at two. Sheamus is still favoring his shoulder so Bryan goes back to targeting it with kicks before he NAILS Sheamus in the temple with a stiff kick for another hot near fall. Both men jockey for position on the top rope until Bryan sends Sheamus off and tries for a huge diving headbutt, but Sheamus avoids it at the last second and then gives him the Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus hits Bryan with another Brogue Kick and that's enough to get the pin and the decisive fall to retain at 22:56. Finally these two get to work a long match and what do ya know, they deliver an absolute war. Great heat, smart psychology, and they managed to put over the heel cunning of Bryan while still making Sheamus look like a total badass, this was the intense encounter we all wanted at Wrestlemania. Excellent match. ****

Handicap Match
Ryback vs. Aaron Relic/Jay Hatton

Another EXTREME bonus squash, goodie. Huge Goldberg chant for Ryback to start as he has not one, but two jobbers to squash tonight. He completely dismantles both of the dorks obviously. He does hit a neat backpack chinbreaker before finishing with his stomping Samoan Drop at 1:51. The whole jobber squashing thing has gotten old pretty quickly to be honest, but atleast Ryback threw something new into his usual three or four moves. The Great Khali and Santino watched on from backstage laughing at this whole thing by the way, if you cared. 1/4*

Backstage Matt Striker is with CM Punk. Nice mini pop for him here as he promises to put Jericho to sleep in their match in front of 20,000 of his closest friends. Little under 15,000, but close enough Punk.

WWE Title Chicago Street Fight Match
CM Punk
© vs. Chris Jericho
Punk's family is in attendance tonight in the front row apparently, and he's rocking an awesome new Misfits-inspired t-shirt. Both guys are rocking jeans in old-school street fight fashion, which is a nice touch. Total brawl to start just as you'd expect and Punk grabs a kendo stick early which brings out a surprisingly loud "ECW!" chant. Punk gets some licks in but then Jericho nabs it from him and gets some of his own in as well before dropkicking Punk out to the floor. Jericho sends Punk into the time-keeper's section and lays in some lefts and rights. They brawl back into the ring where Punk misses his trademark Muay Thai knee in the corner and tumbles nastily out to the floor. Jericho starts pounding on Punk right in front of his sister, trash talking her, when she slaps him right in the face. Jericho tries to get a piece of her but Punk makes the save and flips out on him, tossing the covers off the commentary tables and then bodyslamming Jericho through one of them as if it were a table. That was a brutal outburst from Punk, because as everyone knows, you don't fuck with a man's sister. Jericho blocks a piledriver attempt with a back body drop. Jericho grabs another one of the other table covers and shatters the wood over Punk's back before tossing him back into the ring for a near fall. Punk fires off a big backdrop suplex and then hangs Jericho over the top rope. He tries to springboard back into the ring but slips slightly and Jericho grabs a kendo stick and goes to town on him. He grabs a beer from under the ring and spills it out on Punk. He grabs another one and takes a swig but now Punk's got his second wind and he's armed with a kendo stick. He nails Jericho with it between his knees and then hits a nice swinging neckbreaker. Muay Thai knee/bulldog combo from Punk and then he tries for the GTS, but Jericho escapes and tries for the Walls of Jericho, which Punk escapes out of and counters with a powerslam. Both men jockey for position on the top rope until Punk knocks Jericho off and then hits the Macho Man elbow for another hot near fall. Jericho hits a bulldog and tries for the Lionsault, but Punk catches him and tries for the GTS again, which Jericho once again escapes from. Jericho sends Punk face first into a steel chair set up in the corner and then rolls him up for two. Jericho fires off a desperate Codebreaker on Punk and then locks him into the Walls of Jericho, but it's a street fight so there's no rope breaks. Punk has to improvise and grab a fire extinguisher from underneath the ring, spraying it in Jericho's face. Punk kicks Jericho out of the ring onto the Spanish announcer's table, so Punk goes to the top rope and hits the Macho Man elbow all the way to Jericho through the table! He nearly slipped on that (sick) spot but saved himself. Back in the ring Punk tries for the pin but Jericho kicks out, so Punk locks him into the Anaconda Vice! Jericho is writhing in pain but manages to grab a nearby kendo stick and batter Punk with it three times to break up the submission. Punk grabs a chair but Jericho blasts it right back in his face with another Codebreaker. Jericho tries to give Punk his own GTS, but Punk escapes the hold, sends Jericho into the corner, and blasts him with the Go to Sleep to pick up the win and retain his title at 25:14. This one lived up the billing for once as this was just as brutal and red hot as some of the famous Chicago street fight's in years past. Just an absolutely brutal, red hot match with some creative and killer bumps spread through-out perfectly, this reminded me of some of the best Attitude Era brawls. ****

Backstage Beth Phoenix wants to wrestle Nikki Bella, but Eve tells her she's not medically cleared. The Bellas think they have the night off, but Eve tells them Nikki still has to wrestle. Don't worry though, not against Kharma (rats).

WWE Diva's Title Match
Nikki Bella
© vs. Layla
And her surprise opponent is a returning Layla, which is so very random. Layla gets some nice kicks in but Brie trips her up behind the ref's back from outside the ring and Nikki targets her surgically repaired knee. Layla hits a clothesline and then a nifty flying cross body off the ropes and then they trade sloppy cradles. The twins make the switch behind the refs back as Brie slides in now but eats a nasty neckbreaker from Layla and that's enough to give her the title at 2:28, ending Nikki Bella's legendary reign. Obvious piss-break match here, which there's nothing wrong with after a brutal street fight. I assume Layla is just a placeholder until Kharma eats her on RAW one of these weeks. 3/4*

Extreme Rules Match
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar

Oh yes, and now for the money match we've all been waiting for. Cole actually does a good job of listing off all of Lesnar's accomplishments in the WWE and UFC. Cena charges on Lesnar but Brock takes him down and starts laying in NASTY stiff elbows on Cena, who's already bleeding legit from them now as Brock gives him a stiff clothesline. Well that's one hell of a way to start a match. The ref wants to check Cena's cut but he's right back up and grabs a waist-lock on Brock, determined to out-wrestle the former NCAA champion. Brock lays in some more punches and the ref finally gets a chance to check on the blood as here come's the doctor. For once stopping a match for blood actually works here though as it just gives Brock time to stew and milk the crowd some more like a total badass. Cena gets back up and tries to take Lesnar down, but Lesnar takes him down in his guard and lays in more punches. The doctor checks on the cut again but Cena fires right back up and gets Brock up in the AA position, but Brock counters out into a sick German suplex! He rolls through and delivers another German suplex for good measure. I'm a firm believer that one can never have enough German suplexes. Cena manages to take down Brock in a football tackle but also takes out the ref in the process, and Brock just turns around and tackles Cena back viciously to the mat. Brock takes it to the next level by smearing some of Cena's blood on his chest and even tasting it! Lesnar starts cranking away on a kimura lock on Cena before tossing him into the steel post. Brock grabs Cena's steel chain and wraps it around Cena's legs while he knees him in the gut. He tells Cena to get up and Cena barely does only for Lesnar to take his head off with another clothesline. Brock manages to tie Cena's legs and the chain up with the steel post so that he's hanging upside down now in the tree of woe position. Cena manages to escape the predicament and fire off a few shots at Lesnar, but Brock sends him into the steel steps. Lesnar tosses the ref back in the ring which gives Cena enough time to catch his breath and try for the AA again, but Lesnar counters into the F-5! He knocked the referee out again with Cena's legs in the delivery of the move though, so another referee has to sprint down to the ring and of course only gets a two count. Brock doesn't like that, so he nails the referee and then tosses the steel steps into the ring. He locks Cena back into the nasty kimura lock again on top of the steps now and Brock is really cranking away on the hold in almost shoot fashion. Cena manages to counter with a spinebuster onto the steel steps and he tries for the top rope leg drop, but Brock moves and Cena nearly kills himself bumping between the mat and the steps. Lesnar just stands on the steps running in place, taking it all in. Cena manages to get back up to the apron only for Brock to leap off the steel steps with a flying leg lariat over the top rope that takes both men nastily to the floor. There's that crazy reckless "Yeah I can do a shooting star press, want to see?" attitude we all loved about him. Brock looks like he might have tweaked his knee but he just gets right back up and laughs it off. Lesnar tries for the same leaping leg lariat move off the steps but this time Cena meets his face directly with his fist wrapped in his steel chain! Now Lesnar is busted open and Cena is going wild, beating his chest like a madman. Brock can barely get back to his feet and Cena gives him the Attitude Adjustment on top of the steel steps as the ref counts to three and CENA WINS at 17:43. I've heard a lot of outrage on the web about Cena winning here, but Lesnar DESTROYED him for nearly twenty minutes before Cena got the fluke win and Lesnar isn't seen as infallible as he was during his first run/debut.. This was one of the most brutal flat out fights I've seen in a wrestling ring in a long time, and even had a longtime fan like myself questioning whether certain spots were "shoot" because they looked so damn real. This was like an old school UWFi match where two guys would stiff each other so hard they'd break bones, and to see that kind of a match worked in a WWE ring in itself was incredible, nevermind all of the crazy heat, the hard work from both men, how great Lesnar looked, or how great some of the actual wrestling sequences themselves were. Serious Match of the Year Candidate. ****3/4

After that war, Cena gets on the mic and is holding his arm, which looks like it might be legit broken or out of it's socket. He says that he might get sent home for speaking his mind, but he doesn't care. He says he knows that this is CM Punk's town but it's also a wrestling town, and he's damn proud to have just fought that war in front of a Chicago crowd (which gets a monster pop). John says he might have to take a vacation for what he just did but he doesn't care because atleast if he's going out he's going out with a bang. For such a smark heavy crowd, Cena gets another huge pop to end the show and I'd say he was firmly cheered more than booed tonight in landslide fashion for once. So it looks as if the WWE's super secret master plan of slowly rehabilitating Cena's image with the 18-34 male demographic by having him become more and more of a freaking badass is actually working believe it or not.

Bottom Line: Wow, that was one hell of a show. That was everything Wrestlemania should have been and more. Don't get me wrong, 'Mania was a great show, but all of the marquee matches here I felt delivered in bigger and better ways than their counter-parts the month before. You've got an outstanding technical contest with Sheamus and Bryan, a brutal Attitude Era-like brawl between Jericho and Punk, and a main event so brutal and unique it has to be seen to be believed. Anytime a show has three **** matches, that there's an automatic Thumbs Up in my book. It'll be interesting to see where they go with Brock from here though.

Score: 9.5/10